a critiQal film review Truth or Dare (2018)

Plot: A harmless game of “Truth or Dare” among friends turns deadly when someone - or something - begins to punish those who tell a lie - or refuse the dare.

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  • ...while trying to combine the death sequences of Final Destination with the tagline of Saw, this horror flick turns out to be inferior to both.

With Halloween fast approaching, I’m continuing my October Month of Horror with another newer release: Truth or Dare. From the previews, this one looked to be another slasher flick full of dumb college-aged teens ripe for the slaughter.

Would the film prove to be more than I was expecting? Or is this just another in a long line of silly horror flicks aimed at teens?

Lucy Hale heads up the young(er) cast in Truth or Dare. While she’s the main attraction of the film, she doesn’t quite have the presence to lead the film all by herself. However, with Tyler Posey and Violett Beane doing a decent job of supporting her, together they make for a decently compelling trio. Of course, none of them are destined for award shows with their performances, but they do a decent enough job of turning from fresh-faced happy-go-lucky teens to horror prey.

The rest of the cast varies in Truth or Dare, with each getting their own moment to shine in the spotlight. Again, no award winners, but they do a good job of convincing the viewers they are part of this odd group of friends. And they are decent enough when thrust into the limelight for their scenes.

Unfortunately, while the cast is decent enough, the plot of Truth or Dare leaves a bit to be desired. But, the viewer can figure out where they got the idea from. Obviously heavily influenced by the Final Destination (2000) franchise (and the tagline “Do you want to play a game?” from the Saw (2004) franchise), they set up a story that naturally leads to a by-the-numbers slaughter fest.

Unfortunately, the idea behind Truth or Dare is rather weak. While at a party on Spring Break in Mexico, this group of friends stumble across a seemingly normal guy who, after taking them to a freaky old mansion, convinces them to play the title game. Of course, this being a horror flick, that means they are stuck in a horrific version of the game, where if they don’t play, they die. And if they don’t tell the truth (or do the dare), they die.

As viewers expect, this is full of silly plot holes (not the least of which is how they traipse back and forth over the Mexico border without being stopped once). Still, the game idea does set the film up for a characters-killed-off-one-by-one scenario (after all, they each get a turn), but they are hard-pressed to come up with death sequences that rival those already seen in Final Destination (2000), which upped the ante when it comes to this type of film. They try, and a quick glimpse here or there of some grisly moments (as well as some that end differently than expected) do help, but they just pale in comparison to that other franchise.

But, Truth or Dare has two rather big problems. First and foremost, the game itself heads toward the downright ridiculous almost right from the start. And viewers can see it coming from the first introduction of this group of friends. It veers into silly territory, and unfortunately, continues that theme right up until almost the final sequence. The filmmakers obviously couldn’t think of more than one or two decent “truths”, and head toward the easy out. It’s rather stupid, and viewers might find themselves cringing more from the story arc than the death sequences.

The second problem comes from the first sequence in the film. It starts off Truth or Dare on a sadistic high note…and the rest of the film just can’t compete. Obviously, this is one of those horror films that spawned an idea from this original sequence, and then just couldn’t follow through. Viewers will actually find themselves wondering about the rest of the experiences of that girl and her group of friends, and wish they were watching that movie instead. Because, dang, it looks like it would have been better.

For a quick fright or two, and an expected – if still amusingly involving – ending, viewers can do worse than Truth or Dare. But, they can also do better. With the story arc delving into the idiotic, and that first sequence outshining anything that follows by a long shot, Truth or Dare has some major weak points. Aside from the popular game concept drawing viewers in, there really isn’t anything that sets this horror flick apart from any of the slew of others out there.

Just like the group of friends, you may be drawn to this film for the game. But, you may find yourself better off if you just re-watch Final Destination (2000) instead.

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